Mobile Service To Connect Hungry Pitt Students to Free Food
PittGrub app will send folks in need to events with leftovers.
College students of all backgrounds are quick to converge on free food — so it’s no wonder that an app is being developed to let hungry University of Pittsburgh students with empty pockets get to the nearest leftover pizza and salad first.
PittGrub is a free mobile service that lets students, staff and faculty know when an organization hosting an event on campus has free leftovers. The purpose of the app, which is in beta testing and expected to be available on iOS and Android later this year, is to help food insecure students find a free meal quickly and easily while decreasing food waste on campus.
Erika Ninos, sustainability program coordinator for PittServes, says that the school’s food pantry was created after alumni revealed there were many times in their collegiate careers when they could not to purchase nutritious food or had to cut back on meals. The Pitt News reported that a 2016 audit by food service company Sodexo found Pitt students waste about 237,000 pounds of food per year.
PittGrub prioritizes users who would benefit from free food the most. After an organization uploads a list of food leftovers from an event, PittGrub’s notification system determines which and how many users to invite. It considers factors such as how much food is available, how likely a user is to attend and how badly they need the food. The app tracks a user’s location to determine how close they are to the available food. Users also can let PittGrub know whether they are members of the university’s food pantry, The Pitt Pantry, which increases the likelihood of receiving notifications.
PittGrub is a part of Pitt’s Advanced Data Management Laboratory. The team working on the app consists of Pitt computer science professor Alexandros Labrinidis, graduate student Mark Silvis and undergraduate students David Tsui and Anthony Sicilia.
Subscribe to PittGrub’s email list on its website to be notified when the app is ready for download.